More than 100 firefighters from south east London were called to a large fire at an industrial estate on Maypole Crescent in Erith last night.

Fifteen fire engines from stations including Greenwich, Plumstead, Erith, Lee Green, Sidcup, and Bexley attended the scene.

The fire started at a breaker’s yard at around 6pm and quickly spread to a car repair business and MOT centre next door.

The 10,000 sq ft workshop of the family-owned Citroen Centre was completely destroyed, with nine hoists, two cars and hundreds of tools burned to a crisp.

Mechanic Paul Sims, 51, told News Shopper: “I’m devastated really.

“I’m just still in shock about it and can’t believe it.

News Shopper:

Ted Sims at the scene of his ruined business. 

“It’s going to take a long time to get it back together.

“I just don’t know what to do at the moment but I suppose you have got to not give up.”

The father-of-two works with dad Ted Sims, 74, on a car repair business which has been in the family for four generations. 

Ted, a great-grandfather-of-two, says fire crews had the blaze under control but had to back off after spotting a container full of gas cylinders at RJK Vehicle Services Limited – a breaker’s yard behind his business.

He told News Shopper: “It had died right down lovely but all of a sudden they called the firemen away because they didn’t want anyone to get hurt.

“Within no time at all it was back up and roaring.

“It’s one of those things – it happens.

“No one was hurt and that’s the main thing.”

News Shopper:

The workshop at the Citroen Centre has been completely destroyed. 

The fire was reportedly caused by a car catching alight as it was being crushed.

The owner of the breaker’s yard where it happened was interviewed by police before refusing to speak to News Shopper, give his name or the name of his business.

Barman Rob Honeyman, 35, of Sun Court, Slade Green, who was an eyewitness on the scene, said: "I had just got back from shopping with my mum and we heard and saw firemen going past and mum saw the black smoke.

"I was wanted to go and see what was happening.

"There was a fire on the same estate a few weeks back. I walked across the marshes to get closer and take pictures and video.

"The black smoke seemed to die down but then when the wind picked up from across the Thames it caught the flames and was made a lot worse.

"The fire crews had to retreat to a safer distance in order to continue to tackle the blaze at about 7.15pm.

"In the end there were 15 fire engines that got there. It's a miracle that nobody was hurt.

News Shopper:

Hoses snaking back down Burnett Road. 

"There was people walking dogs and cycling on the marshes so lots of people went past it.

"The wind kept changing direction and all the smoke was blowing over towards the homes in Erith and Slade Green.

"By the time I got home at 8.30pm we had to close our kitchen because we could smell the smoke."

The fire was under control by 12.39am though crews are still at the scene and cordons still in place.

To battle the blaze fire crews ran hoses hundreds of metres along Burnett Road right back to where it becomes Manor Road.

Are you a resident living nearby or have pictures of the fire? Call the newsroom on 01689 885 726 or email

Video above by Rob Honeyman